Clayco bans employees from flying on Boeing 737 Max 9 jets

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ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – The tension surrounding Boeing and its 737 Max 9 planes continues after a mid-air crisis forced an emergency landing earlier this month.

The video of a door blown off mid-air on Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 has gone viral and garnered criticism nationwide.

The FAA grounded all 737 Max 9 planes shortly after the incident and is currently inspecting all 171 planes as two U.S.-based carriers, Alaska and United Airlines, operate the jets.

But one St. Louis company said they weren’t waiting for the outcome of those inspections.

Clayco, a construction and engineering firm in the county, said their employees are restricted from flying on the Boeing 737 Max 9 until further notice.

Anthony Johnson, Clayco executive vice president, said the company’s executives met and came to the decision after fielding questions and concerns from employees.

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“We had to take a step back and say, you know, if it was ourselves, if it was our family, would we want ourselves or them flying on these planes?” Johnson said. “And, until we learn more, we don’t.”

Clayco’s 4,000 employees work on projects across 43 states, which requires a lot of traveling. The company booked more than 40,000 flights in 2023 alone, according to Johnson. This number prompted executives to make the decision, which could be enforced if the planes are cleared for air. 

“Honestly, even after the FAA finishes their investigation, the reality is the FAA investigated the Boeing airplanes a few years ago, too,” Johnson said. “So, I don’t know that we necessarily rely on that data at the conclusion, either.”

The FAA released a statement to the public on its investigation, saying “the safety of the flying public, not speed, will determine the timeline for returning these aircraft to service.”

On Wednesday, Jennifer Homendy, the chair of the National Transportation Safety Board, said the group is investigating the door plug’s entire production journey, along with what caused it to break off. She spoke to the media following a closed-door meeting in Washington with the U.S. Senate’s Commerce Committee.

“Was there an overpressure event inside the aircraft? Was there any sort of structural flexing of the aircraft itself at any points that may have had an impact on the plug itself?” Homendy said.

A Boeing spokesperson had no comment Thursday about Clayco’s decision to ban employees from flying with the jets.

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